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NATIONALS NOTEBOOK

Young Again Is Hampered By His Back

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By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 4, 2008

PHILADELPHIA, April 3 -- Washington Nationals first baseman Dmitri Young's tight back flared up again Thursday, making him unavailable for a crucial pinch-hitting opportunity in the ninth inning of what became an 8-7 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.

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Manager Manny Acta said Young had an MRI exam on his back, the results of which will be determined when the team reaches St. Louis. For now, he is listed as day-to-day.

Young, who was severely limited in spring training because of a strained side and back, has appeared only as a pinch hitter this season after losing out on the first base job to Nick Johnson. Before Thursday's game, Acta said Young would be available to hit, but not play in the field. Thus, with Acta wanting to give Johnson a day off, he started Aaron Boone.

But shortly before game time, Acta said Young approached him about his status.

"He came up to me and said that his back was too tight," Acta said. "He couldn't get it loose and he couldn't play today."

Young uncharacteristically declined to speak with reporters after the game.

Change Is in the Air for Bergmann

By game's end, right-hander Jason Bergmann was all but an afterthought, and the numbers from his season debut -- 5 1/3 innings, seven hits, five earned runs -- weren't all that impressive. But with the Phillies' lineup littered with dangerous left-handed hitters such as Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, Bergmann may have discovered something in a change-up he used more frequently against lefties.

"It can be a real good pitch," pitching coach Randy St. Claire said. "It's getting better all the time."

Bergmann said he threw about 20 change-ups among his 91 pitches, and his off-speed pitches had extreme movement. In the fourth inning, Howard, Pat Burrell and Geoff Jenkins took 11 swings and failed to put the ball in play against Bergmann -- who got five swings and misses and six fouls. He was driven from the game in the sixth, when the Phillies managed four straight singles against him.


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